Nobody told you that the walls would cave in,
that sand castles weren’t permanent,
that the tiny flag at the top doesn’t denote power
but weakness. It just marks the castle “headquarters”
of the decision maker, for the person everyone relies on
to take the fall, the responsibility, to make the hard choices.
Nobody told you that the water would come,
that it would splash at the edges
of your carefully carved moat and lap
at the grains that barely qualify as bricks.
Nobody said anything about what used to live
inside the seashells— so arduously they decorate the walls
of a castle meant to represent the connection between
land and water, a hybrid of dead and living mortar,
of decaying and growing lifeforms—
or of the horror of the discovery of this fact,
that you are using the homes of other creatures,
perhaps even killing the habitants in the process
of building your castle.
Nobody believed you when you blamed
the crumbling walls of your reality
on the breaking of the looking glass and the seven years
of bad luck that followed like a storm cloud,
and rained down upon the sand that children like you use
to build the castles that don’t even remotely mirror your dreams.
The ocean licks at your exposed toes and your body is buried
with the forgotten castles; your head above the sand
just barely able to breathe.
Nobody said anything about ships being like sand castle—
you’re not supposed to go down with your bridges
and flags and round-walled looking towers.
The water wasn’t supposed drain the granules of sand
and suck them back into the ocean.
Nobody told you that dreams could be killed
like the sea creatures that used to live in the shells
that adorn the oh-so-smooth walls of sand;
that you could murder so easily the innocent
ideas that lurk in your mind, and let them seep through
the sand and get lost to the ocean like the water
that was supposed to fill your moat.
Nobody told you.
Nobody told you anything.
Danielle Holzhauser is a writer of poetry and fiction. She attended undergrad at the University of Mary Washington where she received her BAS in Creative Writing. Born in Upstate New York, she grew up in New Kent, Virginia, and now lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where she supports her caffeine addiction by managing a coffee shop. She spends her limited available free time hiking, reading, playing with her cat Artemis, and working on her next project.